Saturday, January 09, 2010
by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, January 4, 2010
Despite some $40 billion dollars spent by the American people on airline security since 2001, allegedly to thwart attacks on the Heimat, the botched attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day was foiled, not by a bloated counterterrorist bureaucracy, but by the passengers themselves. Talk about validating that old Wobbly slogan: Direct action gets the goods!
And yet, the closer one looks at the available evidence surrounding the strange case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the more sinister alleged "intelligence failures" become. As this story unfolds it is becoming abundantly clear that U.S. security officials had far more information on the would-be lap bomber than we've been told.
The Observer revealed January 3 that the British secret state had Abdulmutallab on their radar for several years and that he had become "politically involved" with "extremist networks" while a student at University College London, where he served as president of the Islamic Society.
Examining "e-mail and text traffic," security officers claim to have belatedly discovered that "he has been in contact with jihadists from across the world since 2007."
Indeed, The Sunday Times disclosed that the 23-year-old terrorism suspect was "'reaching out' to extremists whom MI5 had under surveillance." The officials said that Abdulmutallab was "'starting out on a journey' in Britain" that culminated with last week's attempt to destroy Flight 253.
It is claimed by unnamed "British officials" that "none of this information was passed" to their American counterparts; on the face of it, this appears to be a rank mendacity.
The Sunday Times further reported that security officials have "now passed a file" to American counterterrorism officers that show "his repeated contacts with MI5 targets who were subject to phone taps, email intercepts and other forms of surveillance."
None of this should surprise anyone, however. In light of multiple prior warnings which preceded past terrorist atrocities, the selective leaking of information to the British media in its own way, buttresses the official story that the near-tragedy aboard Flight 253 was simply the result of ubiquitous "intelligence failures."
But as we have seen with Mohamed Atta, Richard Reid and Mohammad Sidique Khan, Abdulmutallab's "journey" was one undertaken by many before, often with a wink-and-a-nod by British and American security officials when it served the geostrategic ambitions of their political masters.
As security researcher and analyst Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed wrote in the New Internationalist (October 2009): "Islamist terrorism cannot be understood without acknowledging the extent to which its networks are being used by Western military intelligence services, both to control strategic energy resources and to counter their geopolitical rivals. Even now, nearly a decade after 9/11, covert sponsorship of al-Qaeda networks continues."
Ahmed's findings track closely with those of Michel Chossudovsky, Peter Dale Scott and Richard Labévière, who have painstakingly documented that the complex of jihadi groups known as al-Qaeda have enjoyed the closest ties with Western intelligence agencies stretching back decades.
That intelligence officers, including those at the highest levels of the secret state's security apparat, did nothing to hamper an alleged al-Qaeda operative from getting on that plane--in a chilling echo of the 9/11 attacks--calls into question the thin tissue of lies outlined in the official narrative.
An Intelligence "Failure," or a Wild "Success" for Security Corporations?
Charged December 26 with attempting to blow up a U.S. airliner, according to The Washington Post Abdulmutallab "was listed in a U.S. terrorism database."
The Post reported that the suspect's name "was added in November to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE." It is further described as a "catch-all list" which "contains about 550,000 individuals" and is maintained by "the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at the National Counterterrorism Center."
However, The New York Times revealed December 31 that the "National Security Agency four months ago intercepted conversations among leaders of Al Qaeda in Yemen discussing a plot to use a Nigerian man for a coming terrorist attack."
Times' reporters Mark Mazzetti and Eric Lipton, citing unnamed "government officials," disclosed that "the electronic intercepts were translated and disseminated across classified computer networks" months before Abdulmutallab boarded Flight 253 in Amsterdam.
But when the NSA intercepts landed at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), overseen by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), analysts there "did not synthesize the eavesdropping intelligence with information gathered in November" when Abdulmutallab's father provided the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria crucial information on his son's involvement with the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets, also known as al-Qaeda.
Seeking comment from NCTC proved to be a daunting task. As the Times delicately put it, "officials at the counterterrorist center ... maintained a stoic silence on Wednesday, noting that the review ordered by President Obama was still under way."
Despite revelations in the British press, the White House maintains that U.S. intelligence agencies "did not miss a 'smoking gun'" that could have prevented the botched attack, the Associated Press reported January 3.
White House aide John Brennan, citing "lapses" and "errors" in sharing intelligence said, "There was no single piece of intelligence that said, 'this guy is going to get on a plane.'"
As we will soon see, Mr. Brennan has every reason to hide behind such mendacities.
Investigative journalist Tim Shorrock, the author of the essential book Spies For Hire, reported in CorpWatch, that NCTC is an outsourced counterterrorist agency chock-a-block with security contractors in the heavily-leveraged homeland security market.
Indeed, The Analysis Corporation (TAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of defense and intelligence contractor Global Strategies Group/North America, "specializes in providing counterterrorism analysis and watchlists to U.S. government agencies."
"It is best known" according to Shorrock, "for its connection to John O. Brennan, its former CEO, a 35-year veteran of the CIA and currently President Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser. Brennan, the first director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), retired from government in November 2005 and immediately joined TAC."
Shorrock reports that "much of TAC's business is with the NCTC itself. In fact, the NCTC is one of the company's largest customers, and TAC provides counterterrorism (CT) support to 'most of the agencies within the intelligence community,' according to a company press release. One of its biggest customers is the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which manages the NCTC."
"During the 1990s" Shorrock relates, "TAC developed the U.S. government's first terrorist database, 'Tipoff,' on behalf of the State Department."
Shorrock chronicles how "the database was initially conceived as a tool to help U.S. consular officials and customs inspectors determine if foreigners trying to enter the United States were known or suspected terrorists."
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and subsequent reorganization of the U.S. security bureaucracy, the investigative journalist tells us that "in 2003, management of the database--which received information collected by a large number of agencies including the CIA, NSA, and FBI--was transferred to the CIA's Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) and, later, to the National Counterterrorism Center."
"In 2005" Shorrock discloses, "Tipoff was expanded and renamed the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, and fingerprint and facial recognition software was added to help identify suspects as they crossed U.S. borders."
Despite the utter worthlessness of a bloated database containing more than 1.3 million names according to the American Civil Liberties Union, and not the grossly undercounted figure of 550,000 cited by corporate media, TIDE has been a boon for TAC.
"In the five years after 9/11" Shorrock reveals, "its income quintupled, from less than $5 million in 2001 to $24 million in 2006. In 2006, TAC increased its visibility in the intelligence community by creating a 'senior advisory board' that included three heavy hitters from the CIA: former Director George J. Tenet, former Chief Information Officer Alan Wade, and former senior analyst John P. Young."
And what have the American people gained from inflating the corporatist bottom line? In light of the Christmas Day bombing attempt, not much.
As investigative journalists Susan and Joseph Trento revealed in their overlooked but highly-disturbing 2006 book, Unsafe At Any Altitude, most of the 9/11 hijackers, including Mohamed Atta, Hani Hanjour, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Majed Moqed "were flagged by CAPPS (Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System)."
But because of CIA and FBI monkey-business that rendered watch-list information useless to stop suspected terrorists from boarding an airliner, "the only thing that was done as a result was that the baggage of several members of the Al Qaeda team was held on the ground until the cabin crew confirmed they had boarded as passengers."
And when you consider that Abdulmutallab didn't even have any baggage to check, alleged security "lapses" are even more glaring.
According to the Trentos, "the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Department of Homeland Security refuse to give the airlines an accurate no fly list, thereby allowing the most threatening terrorists to continue to fly." Is there a pattern here? You bet there is!
An unnamed "counterterrorist official" told The Wall Street Journal December 31: "'If you look back to these audit reports, there are significant issues raised with the accuracy and omissions to the watchlisting process that haven't been fixed, clearly,' as of Dec. 25. 'Essentially you're screening blindly, and that's not effective'."
However, we can be sure there will be very little in the way of a hard-hitting investigation into this alleged security breach. The New York Times reported that TAC's former CEO John O. Brennan, has been "granted a special ethics waiver ... to conduct a review of the intelligence and screening breakdown that preceded the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt on an American passenger plane over Detroit."
Enter the CIA, Stage (Far) Right
What "other government agency" may have suppressed intelligence on the would-be bomber?
The CBS Evening News revealed December 29 that "as early as August of 2009," tracking closely with the time-frame of NSA intercepts, "the Central Intelligence Agency was picking up information on a person of interest dubbed 'The Nigerian,' suspected of meeting with 'terrorist elements' in Yemen."
Unnamed "intelligence sources" told CBS, "'The Nigerian' has now turned out to be Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab." But that connection "was not made when Abdulmutallab's father went to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria three months later, on November 19, 2009. It was then he expressed deep concerns to a CIA officer about his son's ties to extremists in Yemen, a hotbed of al Qaeda activity." CBS claims "this information was not connected until after the attempted Christmas Day bombing."
Earlier reports have alleged that Umar's father, a wealthy Nigerian banker and former high state official, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, had only provided Embassy officials with a vague concern that his son's estrangement "may have" something to do with his growing "religious fervor." This too, turns out to be a lie.
The Times reported that a "family cousin quoted the father as warning officials from the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in Nigeria: 'Look at the texts he's sending. He's a security threat'."
Nothing vague in this disclosure, but rather more concrete evidence in the form of "texts" which we now know were shortstopped by British security and included "phone taps, email intercepts and other forms of surveillance" by MI5 that led an anguished father to express well-placed fears about his son to U.S officials.
But as the Times were told by their source, "They promised to look into it. They didn't take him seriously."
And here's where things take a decidedly malevolent turn. According to the Times, "C.I.A. officials in Nigeria also prepared a separate report compiling biographical information about Mr. Abdulmutallab, including his educational background and the fact that he was considering pursuing academic studies in Islamic law in Yemen."
"That cable was sent to C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va.," Mark Mazzetti and Eric Lipton disclosed, "but not disseminated to other intelligence agencies, government officials said on Wednesday."
Then again, perhaps they knew all-too-well of Abdulmutallab's glide path and chose instead to turn a blind eye. Coming on the heels of disclosures in the British media, the evidence suggests that CIA intelligence provided by NSA intercepts, their own on-the-ground operatives in Yemen and MI5 surveillance reports were scrupulously ignored by factions within the secret state who sat on critical information that withheld, would disarm and paralyze normal security procedures in the face of an attack they knew was imminent.
We were told by corporate media, infamously serving as an echo chamber for grifting politicians, Bushist officials and the 9/11 Commission's 2004 whitewash, that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks resulted from "a failure of imagination" by counterterrorism officials to "connect the dots."
Seems there were plenty of "dots" in Abdulmutallab's case and yet, inexplicably, if you buy the official story, and sinisterly, if you don't, not a single one was "connected" prior to the time he took his seat on Flight 253.
Despite the fact that Abdulmutallab was denied re-entry into Britain, paid $2,800 in cash for his "ticket to Paradise," and had no luggage that normally would accompany a person holding a 2-year entry visa into the U.S., the erstwhile lap bomber scored a goal each time and eluded every intrusive "profile" presumably in place to keep us "safe." Talk about a hat trick!
Available evidence suggests that Abdulmutallab should have landed on TSA's hush-hush "Selectee list" for additional screening, or the agency's "No-fly list." And given NSA intercepts and a CIA biographical report on the suspect, this alone should have barred him from entering the country if "normal" security procedures were followed. They weren't.
As The Independent on Sunday reported last week, "the revelation of Abdulmutallab's background has confounded terror experts." One such "expert," Dr Magnus Ranstorp of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, told IoS that "the attempted bombing 'didn't square'."
"On the one hand" Ranstorp said, "it seems he's been on the terror watch list but not on the no-fly list."
"That doesn't square" Ranstorp elaborated, "because the American Department for Homeland Security has pretty stringent data-mining capability. I don't understand how he had a valid visa if he was known on the terror watch list."
Good question, Dr. Ranstorp. Perhaps because someone wanted him on that plane. The question is, who?
One would have thought, given the "special treatment" afforded antiwar activists by TSA at airports, that a warning about Abdul Mutallab's possible involvement with terrorists, by his own father no less, a former top official in a government friendly to Washington, numerous NSA intercepts, a CIA dossier and MI5 reports would have raised at least one red flag!
In the suspect's case, there were so many red flags flying you'd have thought the Red Army was parading through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport!
Then again, perhaps Abdul Mutallab was on that plane because, as journalist Daniel Hopsicker was told by a former aviation executive during his investigation of the 9/11 attacks: "Sometimes when things don't make business sense ... its because they do make sense...just in some other way."
As the World Socialist Web Site points out:
The general outlines of the Northwest bombing attempt and the 9/11 attacks are startlingly similar. One might even say that what is involved is a modus operandi. In both cases, those alleged to have carried out the actions had been the subject of US intelligence investigations and surveillance and had been allowed to enter the country and board flights under conditions that would normally have set off multiple security alarms.
Both then and now, the government and the media expect the public to accept that all that was involved was mistakes. But why should anyone assume that the failure to act on the extensive intelligence leading to Abdulmutallab involved merely "innocent" mistakes--and not something far more sinister? (Bill Van Auken, "The Northwest Flight 253 intelligence failure: Negligence or conspiracy?," World Socialist Web Site, December 31, 2009)
And so dear readers, we are left to ponder the question, cui bono?
Who would benefit politically from a major terrorist incident on American soil, ready, willing and able to step into the breach and exploit the catastrophic loss of human life that would follow in its wake?
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, , his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.
Tom Burghardt is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Tom Burghardt
by Richard C. Cook
Global Research, January 7, 2010
Steven Pearlstein, business columnist for the Washington Post, published a column on January 6 entitled, “Recession Over? Not Unless We Make a Major Shift.” The problem is that the “major shift” Pearlstein writes about won’t solve the problem even if it takes place.
So is the recession ending? The professional cheerleaders from Wall Street think so, now that the Dow-Jones has surged past 10,500. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also cautiously optimistic as the Fed begins to dismantle some of the emergency bailout programs it had implemented to help save the financial system from total collapse after the meltdown of 2008.
How did the apparent turnaround come to pass? Pearlstein notes: “My best guess is that the current upswings in economic output, confidence and financial asset prices are largely a reflection of the extraordinary fiscal and monetary juice provided by Treasury and the Federal Reserve, along with the natural rebound that occurs after a collapse in consumer and business spending like that which occurred in the first half of 2009.”
There is in fact a consensus among commentators that it’s been government money that has made the difference. But the government money has all come from borrowing. It’s why the national debt rose from about $9.5 trillion to almost $12 trillion in a little more than a year. Interest on the debt now approaches $400 billion a year.
But the debt can’t continue growing at such a rate. President Barack Obama has already said that with the emergency behind us the federal deficit must start to come down. The reason Congress is about to pass such a terribly flawed health care bill is that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will reduce federal health care costs by forcing millions of uninsured people into the private insurance system, cutting back on Medicare, and imposing a five percent tax surcharge on the wealthy.
So what is the economic engine that will keep the economy on track? Pearlstein dismisses all four of the most likely possibilities.
He says that consumer spending, with unemployment staying high, will not come back, writing, “It’s hard to see how American consumers can again become the engines of the U.S. or global economies.”
On more government spending, he says, “that’s also hard to imagine. State and local governments, in fact, are still cutting back spending in response to falling tax revenue, and there’s no political consensus for running up bigger federal deficits than we are running now.”
Another possible source of growth is new investment, but the economy is already built to overcapacity in many sectors, “including excess hotel rooms, airplanes, office buildings, shopping malls, cargo ships, aluminum smelters and the like.” Regarding another housing boom, forget it. Pearlstein writes, “…with 5 million vacant apartments and another wave of home foreclosures on the horizon, don’t count on the housing sector to lead the way out of this recession.”
Finally, there is trade. But even though the U.S. trade deficit has come down, its persistence “reflects a fundamental reality not likely to change anytime soon: We no longer produce much of what we like to consume, and cannot make up the difference with exports because of trade barriers and an overvalued currency.”
So what is left?
Here Pearlstein returns to a focus on investment by noting that American consumers have started to save again and that during the downturn businesses saved money by living with aging production equipment, physical plant, and computer systems. He comes out in favor of tax breaks for business to encourage investment, along with new government expenditures for infrastructure such as “basic research, clean-energy development and expanded public higher education.” These things, he says, will create new jobs which in turn should lead to more consumer purchasing power.
The trouble is, Pearlstein already dismissed the investment and public expenditure alternatives earlier in his analysis as being insufficient. More government debt could also lead to high levels of inflation and further devaluation of the dollar. Inflation caused by government and central bank “printing of money” kills enterprise at every level.
Pearlstein fails even to mention the severe constriction of bank lending to businesses that has made conditions much worse for the small business sector where half of all start-ups already fail within a year. Business giants can take refuge in their cash reserves, but even they cannot grow if consumers can’t buy more of their products.
Pearlstein’s prescriptions are mainly platitudes. Let’s be frank: without small business and the revitalization of local and regional economies, a real recovery cannot take place, and an unemployment rate that has terrorized the middle class with loss of jobs, incomes, savings, and health care cannot be overcome.
What is the answer then? It’s one that Pearlstein and the Washington Post, being in the mainstream of economic commentary, dare not mention: it’s local currency systems that alone can fill the gap left by the collapse of public finance due to debt and the failure of the banking system to function at all levels of the economy and not just for the benefit of the super-rich global capitalists.
If the federal government announced that it would begin to accept local currencies in payment of taxes, and state and local governments did the same, we would see an economic miracle that would astound the world.
Richard C. Cook is a former government analyst who writes on public policy issues. His website is www.richardccook.com. His new book is “We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform.”
Richard C. Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Richard C. Cook
By Takunda Maodza and Mchael Chideme
Government has set up a four-member team to investigate Redcliff Municipality following the unearthing of gross mismanagement of council affairs by this paper this week, while the MDC-T has also launched its own investigations to establish the extent of corruption in all local authorities under its control.
In an interview yesterday, Local Government, Urban and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Mr Killian Mpingo confirmed that the Government was investigating Redcliff Municipality.
"We have put together a team. They have to go there and have a critical look at management systems, the efficiency or lack of it and proffer solutions to challenges the local authority is facing," he said.
The four-member team to investigate Redcliff is made up of Mr Charles Masawi, district administrator for Harare Central; Mr E.Z Mupfunya (acting chief internal auditor in the Local Government Ministry), Mrs Lingiwe Ravasingadi (DA for Zvishavane) and Mr T. Maja.
The MDC-T team, led by deputy secretary- general and Hatfield Member of the House of Assembly Mr Tapuwa Mashakada, comprises former Harare City councillor and national executive member Mr Last Maengehama, Kadoma Central MP Mrs Editor Matamisa, Sunningdale MP Mrs Margaret Matienga and Chimanimani West MP Lynette Karenyi.
The Government team’s terms of reference include establishing circumstances surrounding the suspension of Acting Town Clerk Mr Trust Semwayo last month. It has also has been tasked to investigate possible abuse of public funds by councillors, officials and failure to comply with provisions, which relate to disbursement and use of public funds.
The team will further investigate the accounting, financial and personnel systems of council and any other issues relevant to the governance of Redcliff Municipality and ascertain alleged mismanagement of council leading to a decline in service delivery and imminent collapse.
The investigators have also been tasked to verify compliance of transaction of council business including meetings within the legislative framework and relevant administrative instruments.
The probe team is expected to determine the impact of councillors’ behaviour collectively and severally on service delivery at Redcliff Municipality.
The investigations should be completed within five days from the date of commencement on Monday next week and the financially troubled Redcliff Municipality will meet the costs of the investigation.
The Herald is reliably informed that communication has already been made to Redcliff Municipality that the investigating team would descend on the once vibrant industrial town on Monday next week.
"A fax from the ministry notifying authorities about the investigating team’s visit was sent to Redcliff on Thursday this week," a source said.
Redcliff Municipality has collapsed as a result of gross mismanagement of funds and non-payment of rates by residents and companies operating in the MDC-T-run town.
Council is owed US$4 million in unpaid rates with companies such as Ziscosteel having last settled their bills in February 2008.
Other companies based in Redcliff like Zimchem and Bimco have since stopped paying rates citing viability problems.
Steelmakers, the only company that is paying rates, had its US$74 000 monthly bill reduced to US$700 under unclear circumstances.
Council has not been paying its workers salaries since September 2009 and the unpaid wage bill has ballooned to US$420 000.
Contract workers have not received their salaries since March last year.
Redcliff is also failing to settle its bills with such service providers as Zesa Holdings, TelOne and Ziscosteel.
MDC-T spokesman Mr Nelson Chamisa confirmed yesterday that his party had set up a team to investigate the operations of all local authorities it controls.
"We have constituted a team led by Mr Mashakada to radically and thoroughly deal with cases of corruption and non-transparency in the transactions of local government business in all local authorities," said Mr Chamisa.
He said the team would visit local authorities to ascertain issues of service delivery, accountability and transparency in the awarding of tenders.
"The team will meet with residents, stakeholders and where necessary, council employees," he said.
By STANSLOUS NGOSA
THE world food crisis is a grand opportunity for Zambia to take advantage of in terms of agriculture exports, foreign exchange income generation and employment creation.
Even with the abundant land, water resources and good climate, the country’s agriculture sector remains under-developed and dominated by small scale farmers.
Out of the total arable land available, according to the National Agriulture Policy, only 15 per cent is under cultivation, whilst the country’s vast water resource remains unharnessed, with most of the water draining out to the open seas via other countries.
Also, most of the agricultural activity remains at small scale level and dependent on seasonal rains.
However, with the new development in the agricultural sector such as the Governments’ approval of the National Cooperative Policy, the revised livestock and animal laws, the formulation of the National Agriculture Policy and the just signed Memorundum of Understanding (MOU) between Zambia and South Africa, could help promote the sector.
Zambia and South Africa signed six MoUs which included the agriculture sector when president Jacob Zuma was in the country on a state visit recently.
The two countries seek through the MoU to improve access to global market for exports to mitigate the variuos economic challenges affectinhg the two countries.
All these developments would signficantly lead to growth in the sector subsquently stimulate job creation and poverty reduction.
The world food crisis is likely to persist for sometime as global warming, which has brought about adverse weather to many food producing parts of the world, continues.
Ndola economist Hobby Simuchile, said the abundance of land and water resources as well as ideal climate give Zambia immense potential for increased agricultural production.
Mr Simuchile says being productive will put the country at an advantage to respond positively to the current world crisis by increasing food production for export to the world market and consequently increase its foreign exchange earnings.
According the Central Statistical Office(CSO), Zambia covers a total area of 752,614 square kilometres, of which 353,729 square kilometres is arable land.
The country also holds 25 per cent of southern Africa’s and 40 per cent of the SADC region’s surface resources and enjoys a rainfall range of between 700mm to 1,400mm per annum.
In addition, Zambia has good climate with distinct dry and rain seasons and temperatures ranging from 15 to 35 degrees celsius, ideal for growing a range of cereals such as maize, wheat, soya beans, sunflower, paddy rice and other crops.
However, out of the total arable land available, only 53,059 square kilometres 15 per cent, is under cultivation whilst the country’s vast water resources remain unharnessed, with most of it, about 100 billion cubic metres, draining out to other countries and the open seas.
This, according to the ministry of agriculture database, includes, among other things, Maize, Wheat and Paddy Rice which are in short supply and greatly demanded on the world market. The country also produces surplus soya beans.
World food prices have skyrocketed, underscoring the world-wide food crisis that has emerged over recent years and threatens many countries, especially in the world’s poor regions.
For instance, the international market price of wheat, according to Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) doubled from February 2007 to February 2008 hitting a record high of over USD$10 per bushel.
Average prices of rice also reached 10-year highs, having increased from US $219.5 in 2006 to US $594.7 in June 2008.
The average price of soya beans increased from US $269 in 2006 to US $384 in 2007 and US $625 in 2008, whilst the average price of soya oil increased from US $599 to US $881 and US $1,522, respectively, over the same period.
The average price of maize increased from US $122 in 2006 to US $287 in June 2008. In some nations, milk and meat prices more than doubled.
Some specific factors that have led to the world food crisis and soaring prices include the impact of food for fuel .
One systemic cause for the food shortage and price rise is held to be the diversion of food crops maize in particular for making first-generation bio-fuels.
Declining world food stockpiles, in the past, nations tended to keep more sizeable food stockpiles, but more recently, due to the pace at which food could be grown and the ease with which it could be imported, less emphasis was placed on keeping available stockpiles.
Therefore, for example, in February 2008 wheat stockpiles hit a 60-year low in the United States.
Climate changes such as heat waves in California, drought in Australia and unseasonable rains in India are leading to loss of crops and higher prices.
Therefore, the world food crisis is likely to persist for some time as global warming, which has brought adverse weather to many food producing parts of the world, hence the need for Zambia to seize this opportunity the effects on climate change are minimal compared to the industrialised countries.
Jele-Hiefer Dairy Cooperative coordinator Effarta Jele Zambia should take advantage of the current world food crisis by increasing production in agriculture and enhancing exports.
Mrs Jele, who represented women farmers in Africa at the just ended Copenhagen conference on climate change in Denmark, said because of the abundant land and water resources and a good climate, Zambia had the capacity to produce enough to export to other countries.
She said Zambia should respond and take advantage of the current world food crisis and soaring prices by increasing agricultural exports.
Mrs Jele said countries like Botswana and the Iceland were likely to be affected by climate change and would need to import a lot of food.
“Botswana is dry and it will be much drier due to climate change, so we anticipate an increased demand for vegetables and green produce from there.” Mrs Jele said.
She said it was unfortunate that out of the total arable land available in Zambia, only 15 per cent was under cultivation, whilst the country’s vast water resources remained unharnessed, with most of the water draining out to the open seas.
Mrs Jele expressed hope that the approval of the National Cooperative Policy, the National Agriculture Policy and revised Livestock and Animals acts would help promote agriculture in Zambia.
She explains that in other parts of the world the food crisis was caused by poor harvests, increasing use of biofuels and an increasing demand for a more varied diet especially meat.
Mrs Jele says maize, wheat and paddy rice were on demand on the world market, a situation, which she said could be exploited by Zambian farmers.
Susan Ndao owner of Off spring Farm of Launshya’s Baluba area says it is possible for Zambian to produce food for export.
“The only problem is the link to the market, farmers are eager to grow more food but the market is the problem,” Mrs Ndao says.
She says most farmers are scared of producing a lot of food because they were scared of wasting.
Mrs Ndao says there is need for the Government to promote other crops other than maize and Livestock because Zambia has the potential to produce a variety.
The Government, according to the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives agriculture policy of 2004-2015, will promote the development of a competitive, efficient and transparent public and private sector driven marketing for agro-inputs and commodities
She, however, says the Government’s continued support to agriculture sector through initiatives like the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC), which disbursed K2.4bn to small scale farmers in Fisenge to improve their farming activities.
Kango-Kampala cooperative treasurer Dorothy Jere of Masaiti said there was need to help small scale horticulturists to sell their produce as doing so would contribute significantly to both the local and national economies.
Mrs Jere said the 70-member cooperative of horticulturists had the capacity to produce mixed fruit jam from their produce but lack the market.
Instead, the farmers ended up producing jam in small quantities for local consumption
Given this scenario the Government and stakeholders should intensify promotion of irrigated farming, both small and large scale which should be through constant agricultural land identification and de-alienation into farm blocs and agro-settlements.
One such effort is the Nansanga farm bloc in Mkushi District.
The other steps the state should take is facilitating irrigation infrastructure such as dam and canal construction coupled with electrification
Rehabilitation of old and construction of new feeder roads coupled with provision of extension and the promotion of mechanised farming methods should be encouraged if Zambia was seize this grand opportunity.
Promoting other crops apart from the tradition maize cultivation should be encouraged.
Govt’s attempt to rig bid for oil supply exposed
By Staff Reporters
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
THE government's attempt to rig the bid for the supply and delivery of 1.4 million metric tonnes of crude oil in favour of Russia's LITASCO has been exposed.
Well-placed government sources have revealed to The Post that government, through energy minister Kenneth Konga availed the original tender document to LITASCO through its official Leon Hayward so that LITASCO could make or suggest some changes in its favour and disadvantage competitors.
But when contacted for comment, Konga denied any linkage to LITASCO although insiders said he had been working closely with Hayward from June last year when a Zambian businessman introduced LITASCO to President Rupiah Banda at State House.
During a meeting at State House in June, President Banda assured LITASCO that it would get a contract to supply crude oil to Zambia and he involved other government officials to work with LITASCO on this matter.
The sources said several meetings had been held in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lusaka between Konga and LITASCO through Hayward. The source said one of the meetings Konga held in South Africa was in the presence of a named official from State House.
“Discussions have been going on for some time and evidence is there to show that Mr Konga has been in touch with Leon Hayward on a number of occasions,” the source said. “So when the Ministry of Energy prepared the original tender document, Mr Konga availed it to Leon Hayward to make changes to the eligibility conditions in the bid document, which could make LITASCO the only one to meet the conditions. In his handwriting, Leon Hayward made some changes to the original tender document, making LITASCO the only firm that could meet the tender conditions.”
A comparison of the original tender document and the revised one, accessed by The Post, showed that the Ministry of Energy and Water Development and the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) made changes on all the points that Hayward disapproved.
On page four of the original tender document, Hayward underlined the 'eligibility bidders 2.2.1', which read: “Bids are invited from reputable Oil Trading Companies with more than five years experience in crude oil and/or petroleum products supply for the supply and delivery of 1, 260, 000 MT plus or minus 10 per cent of commingled petroleum feedstock in cargo lots of 60, 000-90, 000 MT at the buyer's option.”
In the revised tender document, which was made after Hayward's comments, the clause was changed to read: “Bids are invited from reputable oil trading companies with experience in crude oil and/or petroleum products supply for the supply and delivery of 1, 440,000 MT plus or minus 10 per cent of comingled petroleum feedstock in cargo lots of 60,000 - 90,000 MT at the buyer's option.”
On page six of the original tender document under bid prices, Hayward wrote: “Good!”
The bid price was, therefore, maintained in the revised tender conduct.
On page seven of the original tender document under documents establishing bidder's eligibility and qualifications, Hayward wrote: “new but good” and underlined it.
Consequently, this condition was also maintained in the revised tender documents.
On page 14 of the original tender document under award criteria, Hayward demanded changes.
In the original tender document the award criteria read: “2.27.1 the client will award contracts as follows: technically responsive bids will be ranked on the comparison of evaluated CIF Dar-Es-Salaam bid prices, for the 1, 260, 000 MT which will be the basis for award.”
However, Hayward wrote: “see over side.”
And on the over side overleaf, Hayward wrote the following suggestions: “The tender will be awarded to the bidder that: (a) is technically responsive, (b) lowest price. However: It is the client's right to place an emphasis on bidders who will serve the strategic requirements of the country in the long term. This includes bidders who owns refineries, produce and trade large volumes of crude oil and are substantial participants in the international oil trading market.”
On page 16 of the original tender document, where it was written: “ITB2.11, the price quoted shall be: CIF Dar-Es-Salaam”, Hayward commented: “Good”
On the same page of the original tender document, where it was written: “ITB2.15 Bid security shall be US$1million”, Hayward underlined it and wrote: “Question? Used to be $2 million.”
Consequently, this condition in the revised tender document was changed in line with Hayward's suggestion to read: “ITB2.15 bid security shall be US$2 million.”
In the original tender document, under preliminary evaluation, Hayward commented: “New good.”
On page 18 of the original tender document providing for bid security of US $1 million, Hayward underlined it and wrote: “$2million?”
This condition was consequently revised in the revised tender document in line with Hayward's suggestion.
It, therefore, read: “2. Bid security of USD 2 million.”
The other conditions in the original tender document under technical and financial evaluation, Hayward commented that they were new and good.
On page 19 and 20 of the original tender document under technical evaluation score card, it read:
Criterion: have traded in Zambia in the last one-year for at least 50 million USD.
Maximum point: 25.
Criterion: have a registered affiliate in Zambia.
Maximum point: 15.
Criterion: have an agency in Zambia.
Maximum point: 5.
Criterion: Must have a registered affiliate at Cargoes Entry Point (Tanzania).
Maximum point: 15.
Criterion: have an agency in the port of entry - Tanzania.
Maximum point: 10.
Criterion: at least five years in crude oil trading.
Maximum point: 10. ”
But Hayward wrote: “No! This is only for IPG.” IPG is LITASCO's main competitor and won the last tender against LITASCO.
Consequently, in the revised tender document, these conditions were deleted and only left those that were not objected to by Hayward.
Hayward rejected other conditions on the technical evaluation score-card, stating that they were “not practical.”
Therefore, about five maximum qualifications conditions that were rejected by Hayward were consequently left out in the revised tender document.
Hayward also rejected a condition which stated that, “Note 2: bids from sellers with no affiliate or without a registered company in Zambia will be considered non responsive.”
Following Hayward's suggestions, amendments were made to the original tender document by inserting his proposals to the final tender document.
When contacted on phone from Dubai this week, Hayward declined to comment.
“I am not allowed to talk to press on behalf of the company. We have people who do that for us,” said Hayward, who admitted that he is an employee of LITASCO.
Told that he was being contacted directly instead of the press officer because his handwriting was on the tender document, providing suggestions to the Ministry of Energy and Water Development on the changes LITASCO wanted to be made to the document, Hayward responded: “I don't know what you are referring to. But as I have said, I am not allowed to speak to the press on behalf of the company.”
And responding to a press query from The Post, Konga stated that he had no link with LITASCO.
“I refer to your query dated 4th January, 2010. Please note that I have no direct role in the selection of a supplier for Zambia's crude feedstock (oil) for 2010 to 2011. Procurement issues are handled by the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) chaired by the permanent secretary,” Konga stated.
“The tender document you referred to was submitted to the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) by the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC), which in effect is a sub-committee of the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA).
Upon receipt of the document, Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), as per its mandate, thought that the selection criteria was not adequate and hence amended them, after which were given to prospective bidders, including LITASCO. This is a normal process at Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), which is the overall authority over public procurement issues.”
Konga further stated that later on, ZPPA in consultation with the Ministry of Energy and Water Development agreed to amend the selection criteria, which was also circulated to all the bidders.
“As is the normal practice, the Ministry of Energy and Water Development, Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) and interested prospective bidders met on 18th December, 2009 in a pre-bid meeting. During this meeting, prospective bidders further gave their comments on the tender document,” Konga stated.
“The proposals that the Ministry of Energy and Water Development and Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) found acceptable have been incorporated as a further amendment to the bid document.”
Konga stated that the minutes of this meeting were available at ZPPA for public scrutiny.
“As you can see from the above, I have had no role in this process, other than giving policy guidance at the Ministry of Energy and Water Development. As per the regulations, the Ministry of Energy and Water Development has no direct contact with prospective bidders. All correspondence is through Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA),” Konga stated.
“The above, notwithstanding, you may wish to note that it is the Ministry of Energy and Water Development that is the client and, therefore, the client has the right to ensure that the result of the tendering process meets the interest of the country.”
Konga stated that was, however, done according to the laid down procedures.
“I, therefore, did not give any tender document to LITASCO. The document can be accessed by any third parties (other than the Ministry of Energy and Water Development and Zambia Public Procurement Authority) when they buy it from ZPPA. Given the fact that the document can be sold to anyone who wants it, it is in that sense a public document,” Konga stated.
“Please note that even if the Ministry of Energy and Water Development wanted, it is not possible to pre-select a supplier under international competitive bidding.
Further, note that until the closing date, it is not possible to tell what and the type of companies that will bid. How then would a person plan to disqualify companies that you do not even know?” Konga asked.
“As indicated above, the public procurement process is transparent enough to guard against acts that may lead to selection of a wrong supplier. Other than the process described above, there are other stages that lead to actual selection of a supplier. The actual evaluation is done by a committee whose work the Ministerial Tender Committee has to approve.
“Thereafter, the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) has to approve the Ministerial Tender Committee's recommendations. In any case, some details of the bids submitted are publicly announced at the time the tender closes.”
But a ZPPA source dismissed Konga's explanation.
“Instead of answering directly the question that you put to him, the minister started lecturing to you about tender procedures and actually lied that the document you have is a public one which can be accessed by anyone who can make comments on it,” the source said.
“The document that was passed to LITASCO by the minister was in a draft form and therefore does not qualify to be referred to as a public document. The two documents you are talking about do not have tender numbers. This shows that they are merely draft and not public documents. A public document is one with a tender number and is advertised. So let the minister give you the tender number on those documents to show that they are public documents.”
The source said President Rupiah Banda, using Konga, is determined to award the contract to LITASCO.
“Just wait and see, unless something fundamentally changes, this contract is destined for LITASCO and there is enough evidence to show that Mr Konga has been in touch with Leon Hayward of LITASCO,” the source said.
“The question is, why is Mr Konga only in touch with LITASCO and not other bidders or IPG, the current supplier? And why should the minister be involved in this process instead of the permanent secretary and other technocrats? The truth of the matter is President Banda is deeply involved in this using Mr Konga. Let them deny that they met LITASCO officials at State House in June last year and that from that time Mr Konga and officials from State House have met LITASCO at different times.
“And ask them where one of the President's sons is at the moment and what he is doing there. We know all these things. The President is determined to give this to LITASCO and Mr Konga is only implementing the boss' wish. That's why he in untouchable. Let the President deny meeting LITASCO and discussing this contract. That's why Chibuye the ZPPA director general was put there; it was for him to play the President's game as they are doing now: rigging bids.”
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
There are serious problems at the University of Zambia which need urgent solutions. And it is good that the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union realise the need to solve these problems through negotiations and not strike action. According to the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union, lecturers are owed over K400 billion.
Truly, this is a lot of money and those who are owed this money can’t do anything until it is paid. And they must be facing serious problems to meet school requirements and other necessities of life for their families. We are also told that people who retired in 2004 haven’t yet been paid their benefits. It is difficult to understand how they are surviving. Money has to be found to pay these people their dues.
We do appreciate the financial difficulties the government has in meeting its obligations to our people. But it is also difficult to understand why the same government that has problems paying retirees finds it easier to pay politicians their dues without much delay. Politicians easily get their gratuities before even their terms of office expire. Our members of parliament are usually paid mid-term gratuity when the people they are elected to serve go without their retirement benefits for six years or more.
When it comes to the operations of politicians, money is always found, their requirements are always met. Other suppliers of goods and services to the government seem to be given preference over those who sell their labour as employees. Suppliers of all sorts of services get their money from government much faster than retirees. It’s understandable when the government doesn’t have money because it can only give what it has and nothing more. But austerity needs to be equally shared among all. It shouldn’t be only workers sacrificing, all – from the president downwards – should be sacrificing.
But it seems this government only understands one language – that of conflict, strike actions and protests. Conflict is costly and should as far as possible be avoided. There is an injustice here. And we know that where there is injustice, there is usually resistance and rebellion.
But who gains anything from such conflicts? The government doesn’t gain anything because usually many hours of work are lost. Sometimes even property gets destroyed. Strike actions are also not the best options for workers seeking redress to their problems. But strike actions are sometimes the only sensible option for workers.
Nothing they attain seems to be granted to them graciously. Anything they attain, it would appear, has to be granted to them only after a grueling fight, after strikes. They know they have to fight. The worker has to keep up a constant fight in order to obtain some small benefit from this social and economic order. He has to fight so that his most elemental rights would be respected. The worker knows that what he doesn’t do for himself, nobody else will do for him. The worker knows that what he doesn’t win by his own work, nobody will win it for him.
The worker works for others but nobody ever works for him. He gives everything with generosity, he gives his sweat and energy. And many times he denies himself hours of rest. He gives to everybody, but to him, nobody ever gives anything. What he doesn’t do for himself, nobody ever does it for him. But he doesn’t govern, others govern in his stead and govern against him. They have invented a democracy for the worker – a strange, a very strange democracy, in which the worker does not count for anything.
They have invented a very strange democracy for the worker – a democracy in which the worker does not even exist politically within society.
They speak about treating workers well and all sorts of things. In that situation, a worker’s child could die of hunger because he hasn’t been paid his benefits before the unconcerned glance of the government. His child could be left without learning without the government being concerned. But they continue to speak of rights for the worker that never exist for him.
His child could not be sure even of the right to school. His child could not be guaranteed even the right to a doctor. And thus despite the worker’s tremendous force, despite his sacrifices, despite his work for others in our national life, he neither governs nor counts for anything. He is not taken into account even when it comes to the payment of benefits.
Today, the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union is telling the authorities that its members are committed to ensuring that no strike occurs at the institution this year. They want harmony to prevail at the university. And they are hoping that the authorities will also do their part to ensure that these matters are resolved amicably, without resorting to strike action. But all they are being told is that there is no money.
The allocation for the University of Zambia this year is the same as it was last year. And we know very well that last year, the university was nowhere near meeting its obligations with that allocation. That being the case, how is that same allocation, without even taking into account price changes, going to be able to meet this year’s requirements?
One interesting thing with our government is that it doesn’t matter where the Minister of Finance or of education comes from, the treatment of the university is the same. Today we have a Minister of Finance who is a former University of Zambia lecturer, and economist who should be better placed to understand the problems of that institution. But there is no change in attitude as demonstrated by what has been allocated to the University of Zambia in this year’s budget.
But how do they intend to deal with this problem? We ask this question because this is not a problem that is going to go away by itself. Financial solutions have to be found. But there is nothing being done to assure anyone that the financial woes of the university will be addressed. And if this situation continues, we don’t see how there will be harmony at the university throughout this year. Soon, the patience of these humble workers will dry up; they will be overcome or weakened by financial problems.
And when this stage is reached, conflicts will start, strike actions will be the order of the day. But do we need to wait until that stage is reached; until we start having strike actions for the authorities to start addressing these problems? It is better to start addressing these problems now so that we don’t get into the election year with it and allow it to become a campaign issue. If this issue is not addressed soon, it is inevitably going to become an election campaign issue.
And the ones who will be at the loss, at the receiving end, will be those in government, those in the ruling party. The opposition will soon start feasting on this issue politically and use it against the government and the ruling party. Who can blame them for doing so? Who in the opposition in the world will not make this a campaign issue?
There is need for the government to start saving money by cutting down on unnecessary expenditure and by avoiding paying unjustified huge sums of money for services they can get at a fraction of that cost. In short, there is need for thriftiness. Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all those who work for government that corruption and waste are very great crimes. The principle of diligence and frugality should be observed in everything. If this is done, the government will be able to pay all these workers who have not received their retirement benefits. Those in government should always bear in mind in all that they do that there are still so many retired workers whose lives have been ruined because they have not been paid their retirement dues.
The payment of retired workers should be given high priority in government expenditure. Not paying a retired person is tantamount to killing him after using them for most of their productive life. This is not the way to treat fellow human beings, to treat fellow citizens. A more fair, just and humane approach is needed.
Let us not forget that one of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency, a crisis, a conflict. There is a crisis looming at the University of Zambia. Let us deal with it now before it gets out of control. Prevention is better than cure!
By Ernest Chanda
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
VICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda is reported to have been behind sinister calls from former University of Zambia Students Union officials Antonio Mwanza and Stanford Kabwata to calling for the blood of Patriotic Front members of parliament not sitting at the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).
But the duo has denied ever meeting Vice-President Kunda, saying they were not too cheap to be hired by anyone.
Mwanza and Kabwata have in the last two months been issuing statements denouncing two Lusaka-based PF parliamentarians, Mumbi Phiri and Colonel Gerry Chanda for Munali and Kanyama respectively.
According to well-placed sources in the MMD, Vice-President Kunda has been meeting with Mwanza and Kabwata on various occasions to discredit the parliamentarians as a way of weakening the biggest opposition political party in the country.
"If you remember, these two young men were critical against government in their days as UNZA students. Now, it seems things have not been well in their lives, so they have been courting some government officials," the source said. "He Mwanza has been moving around trying to look for things he can do.
And fortunately for these guys they have struck a cord with the Vice-President and they are now being used to work against the PF. The two have had several meetings with the Vice-President and the last meeting was on Thursday. No wonder we are now seeing this latest threat on the MPs. The Vice-President is skillfully behind this and these boys are just in front talking while the Veep calls the shots. It's quite a well calculated move anyway."
Another source said officials in the MMD had been unsettled by the strength of the PF and UPND pact.
"I'm sure you can as well understand that in the ruling party we did not expect the pact to stand up to this stage. Remember how we despised this pact when it was just announced and took it for a joke. But looking at the time that has passed we are scared that we may lose the 2011 election," the source said.
"So most of our senior officials have been working hard to find ways of dismantling this pact; and the NCC issue is one of them. In fact the strategy to bring in the Chief Justice so that he can summon these MPs was just conceived recently. We want him Chief Justice to criminalise this issue since the NCC is now law so that these people can either be prosecuted or resign."
The duo have since issued another statement dated January 7, 2010 where they are warning of criminal prosecution to any parliamentarian who refuses to sit on the NCC.
"This public notice serves as an ultimatum to all those erring elected area members of parliament who are not attending the NCC sittings to report themselves before the Chief Justice by Monday 11th January 2010 and take oaths of office as members of the NCC or resign from their parliamentary seats on moral grounds... or risk facing criminal prosecution, in view of their disobedience of statutory obligation, by their continued violation of the NCC Act no. 19 of 2007 read together with section 126 of the Penal Code Cap 87 of the laws of Zambia..." the statement read in part.
And the duo indicated that they would hold a press briefing tomorrow at a venue to be communicated in Lusaka. Mwanza and Kabwata both denied being sponsored to bring down the affected parliamentarians. Mwanza said he was doing that based on a legal provision in the Republican Constitution.
"I think since 2005 when I left the University of Zambia my political line has always been straight. I have never availed myself to be hired or used by anyone. I'm doing this based on the provisions of Article 113 of the Zambian Constitution. I think we all understand that issues of leadership deal with service and accountability.
Our Constitution says I will elect a member of parliament who will represent me in the House and wherever national deliberations are being conducted,” Mwanza said. "So if my MP fails to represent me in this manner I have a constitutional right to petition them. I have never met Vice-President Kunda in person. I only see him on TV and in newspapers including The Post. So my brother understand that I'm doing this on principle."
And Kabwata vowed to go ahead with the petition regardless of what people thought about him.
"The issue I have raised is an issue that does not require money. I'm not accusing these MPs of stealing a chicken from Shoprite, no. These are issues, which even you at The Post can confirm. Our MPs have broken the law by not attending the NCC. So, am simply making them accountable to the masses whom they are supposed to represent.
According to the NCC Act Number 19 of 2007, there is no provision for criminal penalties on any member who abstains the sittings.
By Zumani Katasefa and Mwila Chansa
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT
NKANA Patriotic Front (PF) member of parliament Mwenya Musenge has accused President Rupiah Banda of giving Zambia National Union of Marketeers (ZANAMA) too much power.
And ZANAMA vice-secretary general Enock Chifuka accused police of working in collaboration with the PF and failing to protect ZANAMA offices from being damaged from rowdy Chisokone marketeers.
Speaking to journalists after he appeared before police at Kitwe Central Police Station for questioning in connection with the protest at Chisokone Market on Thursday which left ZANAMA offices destroyed, Musenge said it was very unfortunate that ZANAMA had been given so much power by the Republican President.
“It is very, very unfortunate because ZANAMA has been given so much powers by our Republican President because of so called title deeds because each time they ZANAMA call, the President responds to their wishes. This is what you expect,” Musenge said. “About 6,000 miners lost their jobs here on the Copperbelt Province, it was not very important to Rupiah Banda and he never bothered.
And it does not bother him up to now, he is not bothered and he never rushed to come and comfort people who had lost jobs, the miners. But he rushed here to come and glorify ZANAMA who are now…this is not a first case there is already a court case where they ZANAMA broke ribs of one person and the case is dragging on in court.
“We know that something is going on wrong. Now here is a life that has been lost. How can somebody say I created this confusion? Why? Why did they beat a person, these are things we are talking about.”
He said there was no way he could agitate for confusion in his area as member of parliament.
Musenge said police were still investigating his alleged involvement in the protest and the consequence of burning the ZANAMA offices.
Musenge said the police had promised to get back to him once his involvement in the matter was proved.
And Chifuka said it was sad that some political parties such as the PF were trying to make political capital out of the death of Chisokone marketeer Charles Kalenge.
He said the security neighbourhood watch under ZANAMA never beat the deceased.
“Surprising enough, you know that the Copperbelt is dominated by the PF, they twisted the story that the ZANAMA had killed a person,” he said.
Chifuka said the time some PF members heard that the deceased was admitted to Kitwe Central Hospital, some PF members led by Mulonda Mwanza mobilised people at Chisokone Market in readiness for the protest.
Chifuka said goods worth about K200 million were damaged in the ZANAMA office, which was set ablaze by the irate protesters.
Marketeers at Chisokone market on Thursday run amok following the death of Kalenge who they alleged was beaten to death by ZANAMA officials. The marketeers carried Kalenge’s coffin into the market in protest against his death and set ZANAMA offices on fire. However, ZANAMA officials claimed that Kalenge fell from the ceiling after he attempted to escape from the ZANAMA cell where he was detained.
By Patson Chilemba
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday charged that the injury President Rupiah Banda has caused the Lambas is too deep and will not be healed by his desperate appointment of Gladys Lundwe as lands minister.
And former science and technology minister Gabriel Namulambe has reiterated that there was no tribal element in the statement he made that Lambas were frustrated and injured over attacks on president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy.
Commenting on President Banda's appointment of Masaiti MMD member of parliament Lundwe, who originates from the Lambaland, Hichilema said President Banda was panic reacting because of the injury he had caused in the Lambaland.
“No, that Lundwe's appointment is not genuine. He is panic reacting. The appointment of Gladys is really an act of panic because he knows he has caused enough heartache in that area, and obviously he fires Namulambe and try to play around by bringing in Lundwe, thinking that will heal the wound,” Hichilema said.
“The wound he cut is too deep, too painful to the local people. The local people know that Rupiah Banda abused Levy Mwanawasa's name so that they could vote for him. And after voting for him, he is basically exerting excessive abuse to them.”
Hichilema said the Levy Mwanawasa legacy President Banda used to come to power and later abused would haunt him always.
“And the issue is very clear, it is not that he believes Gladys can deliver, and I have got nothing against Gladys… it's because he believes that he can pacify the Lamba people,” said Hichilema. “That is not how you provide leadership. He has not solved the problem, the problem lingers on, and it will haunt him.”
And commenting on his suspension from the national executive committee (NEC) by the MMD secretariat, Namulambe said he was sure that the nation was judging what they were seeing over his suspension.
“I am sure the nation is seeing and judging, and I think even my statement, I don't know if there was any tribal elements in it,” he said.
Namulambe said he would issue a comprehensive statement once he received the suspension letter from the secretariat.
However, he said no one had called him to exculpate himself before the decision was made to suspend him.
Addressing the press on Wednesday, MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba said Namulambe had been suspended following what he termed as divisive tribal utterances by the latter.
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 08 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT
GOVERNMENT will this year establish disease free zones in three provinces in order to control major livestock diseases and improve livestock productivity with enhanced provision of infrastructure.
It is expected that within the zone and its borders, appropriate official veterinary control would be effectively applied for animals and animal products and their transportation.
And the livestock disease free zones (DFZ) would be based on the International Organisation of Epizootics (OIE) objectives whose definition of a zone is an area in which the absence of the disease under consideration has been demonstrated by the requirements specified in the code for free status being met.
According to the expression of interest to undertake feasibility studies for the establishment of DFZs issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, government has identified Central and parts of Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces as a preferred area to set up the initial livestock disease free zone.
“The ministry in line with the FNDP, Vision 2030 and the MDGs has decided to establish a disease free zone in order top control major livestock diseases, improved livestock productivity and provision of infrastructure hence the need to conduct a feasibility study in the identified areas for the purpose of creation of DFZs,” it stated.
Some of the specific objectives of the feasibility study are to recommend the acceptable mode of demarcating the disease free zone and carry out environmental and socio impact assessments.
Other specific tasks include identifying the possible and existing infrastructure required for creating a DFZ such as quarantine facilities, camp houses and location, dip tanks, crush pens, abattoirs, slaughter slabs, processing plants and market centres.
The rest would be to indicate the livestock farmers and their numbers including game fish and livestock grazing land available and its carrying capacity and the general land use.
By Martin Mashekwa in Kalomo
Fri 08 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT
THE Ministry of Community Development and Social Services says it is considering scaling up the social cash transfer scheme in all districts and revise the amount being given to incapacitated households.
Community development permanent secretary Davison Mendamenda, who was accompanied by community development director Rose Mutupo, disclosed this in Kalomo during their familiarisation tour of the scheme.
“With resources permitting, the scheme will be scaled up, government is working with its cooperating partners and a number of them have shown willingness to extend a helping hand,” said Mendamenda.
And acting Kalomo district commissioner Justus Phiri said the introduction of the cash transfer scheme had drastically helped the incapacitated households in the district and reduced poverty levels and begging trends that manifested in communities.
The scheme which was piloted in Kalomo in 2004 and launched by the then community development minister Marina Nsingo, is currently catering for 3,500 beneficiaries in the 127 community welfare assistance coordinating committees with 93 pay points.
Single-headed households are getting K80,000 and those with children net K100,000 bi-monthly.
He said some beneficiaries had engaged in small income generating activities such as gardening, goat and chicken rearing as they were free to use the money in any form they wished, enabling them to fend for themselves and be able to send their children to school.
However, Phiri observed that the current funding levels were still inadequate to cater for the needy incapacitated households in the district.
The scheme caters for 10 per cent of the really incapacitated households while the other needy are covered under the public welfare assistance scheme (PWAS) where they get food security packs to enhance food security among themselves.
This farming season, 310 packs have been distributed to identified needy households in Kalomo with 220 coming from the Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) and 90 under the funding of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The social cash transfer scheme is mainly funded under the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID).
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
PATRIOTIC Front vice-president Dr Guy Scott has expressed concern over the constant reshuffles in the Ministry of Agriculture. In an interview yesterday, Dr Scott said it was not possible for a minister to achieve anything in one season.
He said it was clear that the country was going back to the days of former president Frederick Chiluba where he never kept a minister at the Ministry of Agriculture for more than one season.
Dr Scott, a former minister of agriculture, in the Chiluba administration, said it was not possible to put in place an agriculture policy if the government changes a minister every season because people need time to put in place a system that works.
"I was happy with (late president Levy) Mwanawasa's approach where he kept Mundia Sikatana. And now under (President) Rupiah Banda we have had three ministers in 14 months. Even if you split the ministry, the ministry under the crop side has had three ministers now we have (Peter) Daka. The point is not to have the ability but to have stability because you can't just bring up policies every year," he said.
He said he could not see what was working in President Banda's mind and it was like the wako ni wako system was working.
"Why change Dr Chituwo when he was doing a great job? If he was given more time, he could have come up with good change. You can't deprive a person of time and put in someone else. This is not the way to run the agriculture sector. You can't change the agriculture policy in one month or two months," he said.
Dr Scott said the solution to the problems with the fertiliser support programme and the food inputs support programme did not lie in changing the minister but getting specialisation in the ministry and genuine priorities.
He said the problems in the agriculture sector needed to be addressed with consistent policies.
"Even if Daka is not a cadre and just a minister, you can't achieve anything in one year because at this rate, he will be replaced in one year. We are going back to the Chiluba style of mismanagement of policy where civil servants just laugh at politicians," he said.
Dr Scott was the agriculture minister from 1991 to 1993. President Banda appointed Daka this week after he moved Dr Chituwo to the Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Chituwo replaced former science and technology minister Gabriel Namulambe who was recently fired.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 09 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT
LAWYERS defending Post editor Fred M’membe and the newspaper on a contempt of court charge yesterday disclosed that the company’s representative Reuben Phiri will not testify but rely on the evidence adduced by M’membe during his defence.
And a monitoring and evaluation manager at Project Concern International (PCI) Stephen Chanda, 35, yesterday testified that M’membe attended all the classes, tutorials and group discussions, as per requirement of the one-year Economic Policy Management course that they pursued together at the University of Zambia (UNZA) from 2008 to 2009.
When the matter came up before magistrate David Simusamba yesterday morning, the lawyer representing M’membe and The Post, Remmy Mainza said Phiri would not give evidence but would rely on M’membe’s evidence since M’membe was an employee of The Post.
“What we have elected to do is the company will rely on the evidence of DW1 because he is also an employee of the company,” Mainza said.
But Lusaka divisional prosecutions officer (DPO) Frank Mumbuna objected to the procedure that Mainza was employing on the basis that there were two accused persons in the dock.
“There is no law anywhere where an accused person can give evidence and cover as a state witness the second accused person,” he said. “The only procedure that is alive is that either accused number two remains silent and calls no witness.”
Mumbuna said the procedure that the defence was trying to adapt was not supported by any piece of legislation and that the prosecution would therefore not allow it.
However, Mainza responded that he recalls that when M’membe was giving his evidence-in-chief, there were some aspects that touched on the second accused but there was no objection from the state then.
“And that evidence as we speak right now is actually part of the record,” he argued. “It is too late for the state to object to evidence that is already part of the record…The objection has no basis at all and ought to have been raised timely.”
In his ruling on the matter, magistrate Simusamba said the correct procedure is that The Post would be deemed to have exercised its right to remain silent.
Magistrate Simusamba said at the last sitting, The Post (A2) had indicated that they would call the same five witnesses as the first accused person, M’membe.
“Today he has elected to remain silent. It is his right,” he said.
He said although M’membe’s evidence could not be repeated in respect of The Post, the same would be evaluated in terms of admissibility subsequently.
“For now the record is amended to reflect that A2 elects to remain silent and call the five witnesses as A1,” magistrate Simusamba ruled.
And during examination-in-chief led by Mainza, Chanda said between October 2008 and September last year he was undertaking a Masters of Art course in Economic Policy Management at UNZA’s School of Mines with M’membe.
Chanda said the students who took part in the course were required to take study leave from their places of work and avoid any activities that would detract them from the study programme since the funding agencies demanded that the students undertaking the programme commit to go through the study on a full-time basis.
He said failure to adhere to the regulations would mean exclusion from the first-of-its-kind study programme.
Chanda said he took study leave from his employer but this was done verbally.
He said as the student representative and coordinator for the study group to which M’membe belonged, he was aware that M’membe attended all the classes, tutorials, seminars and study groups within the programme.
During cross-examination by Mumbuna, Chanda said he could not account for M’membe’s activities after around midnight when they stopped their study group session.
He said he did not know the position that M’membe held at The Post because he only had an academic interaction with him.
Chanda said the attendance register was proof of someone’s rate of commitment to the course. The court then set January 14 and 15 this year as dates for continuation of defence.
By Christopher H Mutsvangwa
THE year 2010 could turn out to be the year of Zimbabwe’s meteoric economic rise. The country is set to shake off all the blues associated with the illegal sanctions imposed by the Anglo-Saxons and EU countries and join the ranks of fast growing emerging economies in a spectacular manner.
High Quality Human Resources
Soon after independence in 1980, H.E. Comrade Robert Mugabe made the momentous and fateful decision to educate all the Zimbabweans. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were at loggerheads with him when he pushed for universal primary education and subsidised secondary education.
His answer to them was: Can you help me choose which of the Zimbabweans I should remove from the huge numbers of all who were asking for school placement.
Today, Zimbabwe is at the crest of Africa’s literacy only topped by Tunisia. Its educated population is much sought-after for its readiness to acquire the skills of modern development. Now it is the object of envy and praise by all. Most important this high quality resource is poised to work on the recovered natural resources in a way that will propel the nation to much craved for prosperity.
Quandary on Illegal Sanctions
The initial break came with Zanu-PF embracing the MDC opposition in a political settlement that ended the state of political polarisation induced by the British former colonial masters and their allies. The resultant climate of national unity dealt a devastating blow to the pretext that had been behind the illegal sanctions.
As we talk, there is total confusion in the camp of the enemy within and without Zimbabwe. They are sitting on the horns of a dilemma as their sanctions policy has been overtaken by Zanu-PF and its mastery of politics and diplomacy.
Now they have to talk of "conditional" lifting of the illegal sanctions thus tacitly accepting the failure of the regime change agenda of the past decade. Most painful for the enemies and detractors is the fact that H.E. President Mugabe is still Head of State of Zimbabwe and is firmly in control of Zanu-PF.
Land is the Economy
Even worse for them, the people of Zimbabwe are stubbornly refusing to hand back their land which they successfully recovered from the colonial plunderers. Indeed that land is now the driver of the emergence of a new propertied class.
Hurrah! Zimbabwe is now firmly back on the rails of self-sustaining national economic development deriving from indigenous capital accumulation. This epochal event will be a beautiful novelty to an Africa continent whose five centuries of interaction with Europe brought about the bane of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.
London and the Sulking Losers
In the mean time, Tony Blair and George Bush, the authors and practitioners of regime change are wallowing in the ignominy of political wilderness, totally discredited and thoroughly despised. Gordon Brown, their student is faring no better as he faces the specter of stark defeat at the national polls later in the year. He is likely to leave office without even as much as a face saver on a dead end policy of sulkiness and vindictiveness by Britain.
New and Unfettered Sources of Capital
The underlying rationale of illegal sanctions was to deny capital to the new indigenous landowners who were a product of "fast track" land reform. Without loans, the new farmer was to meet the fate of a grape that withers on its vine. Back in 2000, Europe, America and Japan had a juggernaut control on world capital markets.
The Breton Woods institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and their offspring the Paris Club of Debtors had literarily the writ of death on a poor African country that would dare defy the self-appointed masters of the universe.
Their track was menacing enough. Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and many others had been driven out of power and/or killed. The economies of Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and others were all wrecked in punitive and salutary vengeance for daring to defy.
The total starvation of capital to Zimbabwe was to be the prelude to a war of aggression to remove Mugabe and his hated Zanu-PF. Their crime was so grave that it warranted merciless retribution. The first count was that they had succeeded through the fit of modern arms to win back freedom from an offshoot of the British Empire. With the land reform they were compounding insult to injury by actually dispossessing the colonial offspring who were local guardians of the tangible and intangibles of the imperial heritage.
BRICS to the Rescue
The last decade of the 20th Century was a torrid one as Zimbabwe’s economy was buffeted by the merciless cyclones of relentless regime change. The assault spared nothing in its way, focusing particularly on the national currency. It was reduced to worthless paper as the nation’s social delivery system slid to medieval decline of cholera proportions.
But other global forces were coming into play. The rise of Brazil, China, India, Russia (the BRICs) was gathering pace in world economics. The BRICs were the front row representatives of a whole lot that would include Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, South Africa, and Malaysia in the so-termed Group of 20.
For Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, the arrival of post-Apartheid South Africa on the continental face signaled a new profile in world affairs. No longer could Europe continue to act against Africa and its interests without the compunction of unbridled arrogance as of habit.
The manacled grip of Western capital on Africa was facing determined and relentless challenge. The sumptuous dinners of the super-rich Group of Seven (USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, and Canada) now had new gate-crashers.
The imperial excesses of the war monger but reckless George Bush eventually plunged the superpower economy of the USA in a massive financial crisis in 2008. The resultant quagmire went on to drag down all its allies. The economic saviour of the world was China and its other BRIC economies.
For Africa, Johannesburg is rapidly acquiring the status of a continental financial powerhouse that is fast loosening the hobbling tentacles of affected or discriminatory investment. New infusions of equity and loan monies from Shanghai, Hong Kong, Moscow, Seoul, Riyadh and Sao Paulo are translating into bruising competition to traditional fund managers in New York, Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Rome.
The pan-African nationalistic streak in the Afrikaner investing class has come in handy in the new financial dalliance between Johannesburg and the cash-rich greater China financial centres of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen as well as Singapore and Taipei. Last year, Standard Bank owner of Stanbic Zimbabwe got a US$6 billion equity injection from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the biggest bank by capitalisation in the world. As we talk, First Rand Merchant Bank is forging a partnership.
The banking love-fest between Beijing and Tshwane will soon extend to the field of mergers and acquisitions. After many years honing their manufacturing skills in the highly competitive domestic industrial environment, many Chinese companies are ready to break out into foreign markets. And the most developed country on the continent has much to offer in this domain.
South Africa’s Afrikaner intelligentsia is helping in this effort. Stellenbosch University has an excellent research centre that is refreshingly open-minded about the Chinese business engagement with Africa.
This is in direct contrast to the Euro-centric bigotry that has gripped the Zimbabwean commentary on economic relations with China, the newly emergent global power. It is indeed a sad reflection on an academia that is anti-national and is always inclined to fawn to inimical foreign interests in the manner aptly described by Malcolm X and his lexicon on "kitchen niggers" as opposed to "field niggers".
The internationalisation of the London-Harare bilateral quarrel is not much of a factor to this new capital whose primary quest is profits. On this sole criteria Zimbabwe is more tantalising than many fellow African countries. As we get our national political act together in the aftermath of the GPA, the new investors are not going to be persuaded by the cacophony of noise from possessive and frightened rivals of imperial legacy.
To the contrary they are most likely to be much enthused by the business opportunities that have been created by the breaking up of the land cartel of ex-colonial white landowners.
They are also eager to get their hands onto cake of the pie of the fabled mineral rights that were the hoard of the Anglo-Saxon resource giants. Neo-colonial relations had all along confined them to buying them through the London Metal Exchange even as Britain hardly has mineral resource of any note.
Prime Time Africa
The resource-rich continent is now basking in the limelight of rising demand for its oil, iron ore, coal and base minerals. Angola breaks into 2010 with four gleaming stadiums in four of its major cities. And it hosts a jamboree of African soccer competition to announce a total break with its image of ravage.
The scramble for African oil and minerals is fast being complemented by the attention to the continent’s fertile but under-cultivated agricultural land to help feed the choosy palates of the ranks of swelling middle classes in BRIC nations.
The resource boom is throwing to naught the onerous and negative credit ratings that had afflicted the continent. As new fund vaults are being opened to the continent, all sorts of infrastructure projects are being dangled to Africa.
The NGOs of the West, long touted as the saviours of the continent are being displaced by project manager technicians and land surveyors who are busy erecting ports, railways and bridges across the jungle. It is just wonderful that Africans, just like the rest of humanity can now rightly aspire to the trappings that come with modern civilisation.
It is not long ago that African leaders were being schooled by the World Bank mandarins to think smaller than "grandiose" projects. Their dreams were being limited to plead for that which could be transported by a 4x4 vehicle driven by an NGO aide. Needless to say most of these aides were types that were unemployable in their home countries.
The debt, the poverty and the hunger missionary roles assumed by faded pop stars like Bob Geldof, Bono and Madonna is fast being eclipsed and displaced.
Indeed it is about time that Africans interact with more useful strangers. Welcome to the banker, the entrepreneur and the project manager!
Zimbabwe and the New Constitution: Back to the Future
From 800 AD till the time of the Portuguese and eventually British interference with our civilisation march, Zimbabweans had built a thriving civilisation that takes pride of place in sub-Saharan Africa. The grandeur that is the citadels of Great Zimbabwe, Mapungubwe, Khami, etc are all testament to a past of glory and splendor. All this was possible because the people were in communion with their land and all its riches.
The Chimurenga II and the Fast Track
land reform restored
This is a normal relationship that had been lost to imperial plunder. Freedom, independence and the control of our resources are the enduring gifts of President Mugabe and his party Zanu-PF to Zimbabwe and its people.
The constitutional process currently going on is the final lap of our long road to prosperity. It is a process that will codify for eternity all the gains of a painful but rewarded history. This is the only worthwhile goal to be pursued.
With national unity now within grasp as the Sadc diplomatic process has helped to marginalize the forces of division and pandering within the national body politic, Zimbabwe will once again look forward to prosperity. Zimbabwe will soon join other trailblazing the BRIC countries in helping change the face of the global economy.
Friday, January 08, 2010
PARAMOUNT Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people in Eastern Province says he intends to summon Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata to his palace if he does not apologise over remarks that the tarring of the Chipata-Mfuwe road will benefit animals more than people.
Mr Sata is alleged to have accused President Banda of favouring the construction of the Chipata-Mfuwe road which leads to a game park where animals live at the expense of equal development of all provinces.
Chief Mpezeni said the remarks Mr Sata made over the commissioning of the road are demeaning and retrogressive to national development.
He said in an interview yesterday that it is important for Mr Sata to apologise to the people of Eastern Province and President Banda, failure to which he would summon him to his palace.
“I have read in the papers and I can confirm that I am just waiting for an official complaint from chiefs who live along the Chipata-Mfuwe road before any action can be taken,” Chief Mpezeni said.
He said hundreds of people live along the road which President Banda commissioned.
“What kind of leadership is Mr Sata going to bring if he continues to use such abusive language?” the chief asked.
He said much of the food which Mr Sata enjoys comes from Eastern Province despite the poor state of roads.
The chief said President Banda’s commissioning of the Chipata-Mfuwe road will help boost the agricultural sector in the province.
“I can never compare human beings to animals because I have respect for them. All I said is that even if the road is built, preference will be given to animals because people will be displaced to pave way for the road construction,” he said.
“Eastern Province has good soil for agriculture although the poor state of roads discourages many farmers from transporting their produce.
“ It is very unfortunate for someone who is aspiring to be a leader of the nation to utter injurious and demeaning remarks to people from whom he will be soliciting votes next year,” he said.
Chief Mpezeni advised Mr Sata to humble himself if he wanted to become a good leader in society.
But Mr Sata has clarified that he never likened the people of Eastern Province to animals.
“I can never compare human beings to animals because I have respect for them. All I said is that even if the road is built, preference will be given to animals because people will be displaced to pave way for the road construction,” he said.
Mr Sata said many roads in Eastern Province have been in a deplorable state for many years and that it is important to also give them attention.
Other chiefs in Eastern Province have also demanded an apology from Mr Sata.
[Zambia Daily Mail]